Raameo and JuLeela

M_Id_420807_ramleelaSanjay Leela Bhansali and I have a rocky relationship. I loved Khamoshi when it was a flop, liked Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, but was dissapointed in Devdas. The opportunity to do something with a literary classic was squandered in favour of a show of large overdecorated sets and overdressed cast. Dialogue was unintentionally funny, acting over the top and subtlety word SLB ki ‘bokwas’ dictionary mein nahi hai. Same trends have continued in his later films.

Now to the Ram Leela. Its the story of Ram and Leela, surprisingly. They meet, sparks fly and they set themselves and each other ablaze. They want to elope but get caught up in the fight. The rest is just their struggle within themselves. Moving between rebellion, reconciliation, confrontation and resignation, the lead couple struggle to get to the same page as each other. They are two different characters, though. Not at all copies of each ramleela13-sep17other, and neither docile. SLB relishes creating strong female characters and here he has his plate full. Deepika’s Juliet is totally unlike a typical filmi heroine. She rebels, she revels in her passions and she is willing to take her lover to task. She is joined by Supriya Pathak and Richa Chadha (underused) in forming a three pronged female powerhouse. Both of character and performance.

ranveer-hair-flip-oThe only male character of note is the hero, intruduced in a song designed to remove all dandruff. Ranveer Singh is charming, and disarming. He diaplays enough energy to last several films and talent enough to make him last. I liked him a lot in Lootera and he is displaying some star power in this. Let’s all remember that this is a Bhansali film, so his acting won’t be quite as loud in his other, ‘normal’ outings. In this film, a manic energy works.

All this is not to praise the film too much, though. The faults are there aplenty. Character motivations don’t often make sense, the writing meanders in bizzare directions and everything is too choreographed. My biggest complain with the director remains his idea of what a film should look like. A village ravaged by warring gangs should not look like a holiday resort replete with peacocks. It should look shabby. It should look poor. It should have people in shabby, warrior uniforms, not impeccable white kurtas. It should have fortress like houses with small windows, not elaborate balconies with exotic gardens. I know this is a Bollywood film, but the dissonance was too distracting for me. For all the preaching about peace, this movie makes violence sexy. And that is not my only problem. Ram almost borders on abusive in her behaviors towards Leela. Seems weird.

In the end, its a spectacle. Go with low expectations and it may exceed them. Go for originality and you will be disappointed. In many ways this is Hum dil de chuke sanam meets Rowdy Rathore, but not entirely in a bad way.

If you are on the fence, go for the sizzle of the scenes involving the titular couple. Deepika and Ranveer light up the screen when together and teach you what ‘chemistry’ means.

My beef with Sanjay Leela Bhansali continues. He still doesn’t understand what makes his films work. He is good at depicting, often eliciting emotions. But, like RGV, he is becoming more and more obsessed with his signature style at the expense of narrative clarity. There is a body mutilation scene followed by the director lovingly looking at artistic blood flow. He even had the character step out of the house and stand in rain to give more of the arty look to the blood mixing with water. And of course there was rain. Heavy rain. In desert. Well at least this film is not a Sawaria.

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ExKrrisshiating Pain

Bollywood is masala. Just a superhero won’t do, we need more. For Krrish, Rakesh Roshan’s something more is the 80’s:  family drama, romance, a love triangle. And a lousy storyline with over the top dialogues. Laughable villain, with silent bodybuilder goons and  femme fatale, who falls for the hero…..

To say that the film is stupid is stating the expected. To say that it’s more stupid than I expected: that’s saying a lot. I was okay with Koi Mil Gaya. Via all the copying of E.T. it gained a story. Krrish had the charm of a guy discovering his powers. Both of these were not great films, but they tried being charming. After Krrish 1 comes Krrish 3, and we abandon all hope of anything making sense any more. We all know that the movie is a hit, but that just shows the dearth of options for our kids. It’s a horrible film for a kid. It’s violent, shows a lot of blood and suffering, and sends a very weird message of how DNA works.

For adults, it’s just too silly & absurd. But there are perks too. It has so many “inspirations” from Hollywood that you can play the game of “where is this scene/character lifted from?” If you don’t watch much Hollywood you can entertain yourself with spotting the brands advertised in the film. From Bournvita to Nokia, Tata motors, Nike, Flair Pens, even Del Monte and Tez…. I lost count of all the paid placements.
The paid placements were so clumsily placed, so blatant and shameless, they showed exactly what’s wrong with the film: it’s a tasteless money grab. The director thinks you are too stupid to notice everything that’s wrong. This is the guy who made Koyla after all. His idea of masala differs from mine. This one is a curry gone wrong.